Gameday – 2014 NCAA Tournament – Orlando, FL: (1) Florida Gators vs. (9) Pittsburgh Panthers

By Adam Silverstein
March 22, 2014

Location: Amway Center – Orlando, FL [Capacity: 20,000]
Time: 12:15 p.m. EDT

TV: CBS (Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner, Kristine Leahy)
SiriusXM: 85/190 | Radio: [Westwood One]
Online Video: March Madness Live | Mobile Video: March Madness Live app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

See the Game in Person: Florida Gators tickets

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jamie Dixon
Record: 33-2 Record: 26-9
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5 | O/U: 124


» Florida is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history, holding a 7-0 record with that seed and national title the previous time it held the ranking entering the tournament (2007).
» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title for the second-straight year and third time in the last four seasons. UF then went on to win the 2014 SEC Tournament Championship for the first time since 2007.
» The Panthers earned the right to play in the Round of 32 by defeating (8) Colorado 77-48 in the Round of 64 on Thursday.
» Florida has played 55 games in 19 NCAA Tournament appearances, holding a 39-16 all-time in the event. The Gators have played 43 of those 55 games under Donovan, going 32-11 in those contests over 15 NCAA Tournaments.
» UF is 9-4 in Round of 32 games and has now been knocked out in its second NCAA Tournament game since 2005. Florida has advanced to play two games in the tournament in 14 of its 19 appearances. In its last six NCAA Tournament appearances, the Gators have won back-to-back national championships (2006-07) and advanced to three-straight Elite Eights (2011-13).
» Florida is 2-4 all-time against Pittsburgh, but the Gators and Panthers have never squared off since Donovan took over the former team.
» UF enters Saturday’s third-round game on a program-record 27-game winning streak with victories in 32 of its last 33 games.
» The Gators are 84-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 15-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» Florida is 6-0 in neutral-site games this season.
» The Gators are 23-5 playing as the top team in the country.
» Florida won 30+ games prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and can set a school record for most wins in a season by winning three more games and advancing to the Final Four.



Between Florida senior center Patric Young and Pittsburgh senior forward Talib Zanna, 470 pounds of muscle will be fighting in the paint on Saturday afternoon. The 6’9” big men know full well that they are each in for a battle as their respective teams will both look to establish physical dominance on both ends of the court.

“I’m just going to go out there and just play my game,” said Zanna on Friday. “I know he’s a physical guy, he plays dirty, so that’s how we play. So, it’s going to be a good battle down there, and it’s going to be fun.”

Asked about calling Young “dirty,” Zanna, a Nigerian-born player who speaks four languages, clarified his comment. “I don’t mean like a dirty player,” he explained, “I just mean he’s physical, gets after it, and he’s a hustle player.”

Young paid Zanna’s comment no mind, noting that he is also looking forward to the competition that awaits both men on Saturday.

“I think he meant probably that we’re both similar type of players, willing to do whatever it takes, the hustle plays, going in there for offensive rebounds, fighting,” Young said. “I don’t think he meant anything out of context as far as unsportsmanlike, taking cheap shots. No one has ever said anything like that about me. I’ve never purposely or intentionally done anything like that on the court.

“I just know [Saturday], because we’re both very similar players, it’s going to be a battle. We’re going to go out there and just try and wear their frontcourt out because they have a lot of depth, a lot of good, talented guys, especially him. … I know it’s going to be a battle up front. I’m just excited for the opportunity to go against someone like that.”

Donovan acknowledged that the Gators and Panthers are primed for a physical game and praised Zanna’s play, using many of the same descriptors he has often uttered when discussing why Young has been so successful.

“He’s a high-motor, high-energy guy, great, great rebounder, great runner, a great defender in pick-and-roll,” Donovan said of Zanna. “He’s a great help defender. They’ve gotten a lot of productivity out of their front court. I would imagine it will be a physical game.”


» Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the Gators learning from their Round of 64 win: “Just make sure we’re ready to go, put this last game behind us, and start worrying about Pitt and just how we need to play against them. We just have to be ready to play. That’s the only way we can avoid something like that. I think we’ll be ready, though. I think we’ve got this game out of our system, and we’re ready to move forward and ready to play like we know we can.”

» Wilbekin on how well he gets along with Young: “He’s a great guy, fun to be around. As far as his development, I think he’s done a better job each year at getting better at his low-post scoring, and he’s always been a good defender, but he just this year I think he’s really done a good job of maybe improving his stamina so he can stay in the game for longer and play that top level of defense for longer periods of time and just his hustle plays this year have been more than any other year.”

» Young on how Florida can beat Pittsburgh: “They have one of the best assist to turnover ratios in the country. We’re just going to have to do a good job of deflecting balls and disrupting their flow, style of play, same type of deal we’ve always been trying to do, just to be disruptive and junkyard dogs out there on the defensive side.”

» Donovan on how the Panthers will give the Gators problems: “I think Pittsburgh, they do a terrific job attacking the press. They’re going to try to attack the score. They’re very good at that. So, our rotations and what we do in our press will be important because they really do a terrific job in the middle of the floor passing and making decisions and attacking the basket.”

» Donovan on freshman PG Kasey Hill’s turf toe injury: “He seems fine. We have practice after this, and he’s cleared to practice and will practice today.”

» Donovan on redshirt senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith’s proficiency as a rebounder: “He’s always been a good rebounder. I think the one thing he gets into the game is his rebounding. He does a good job with that. I think he’s been pretty reliable. He makes an effort. I think part of being a good rebounder certainly is the flight of the ball, having a knack for it, and then you’ve got to be able to pursue the ball, you have got to be able to chase the ball, and I think that’s something you’ve got to be able to get up the floor quickly. Certain guys just have a great knack for it, and I think Dorian is one of those guys that the gift, the talent he has is to rebound.”

» Donovan on coaching against Dixon, a friend, for the first time: “We’ve never coached against each other, our teams have never played against each other. I’ve known Jamie for a long time. We have a clinic every summer on our campus. Jamie has been there several times to speak. It’s been great having him there and being a part of it. Also got obviously a chance to know him through the USA Basketball. He was out there a couple summers helping pick the team. Got a lot of respect for Jamie as a coach and more respect for him as a man just based on the relationship that we’ve been able to develop over the years.”

» Dixon on whether Pittsburgh will try and take Florida sophomore guard Michael Frazier II out of the game like Albany did: “Well, he’s a big part of their offense, obviously, because of his shooting ability. He’s their best shooter, best perimeter threat and shoots a high percentage from three. We know that, and we’re well aware of that. You can’t stop everything, but you don’t want to allow him to get going, and he can make a lot of if he makes shots, makes a couple of them it can break a game open. We’ll be aware of him. We know every team has a shooter, at least one, and he’s their guy and he’s very good at it. We’ve got to be aware. We’ll have different guys guarding him at different times. I think transition often times is a place where guys get going and get shots, and that’s where we can’t allow him to get. I think we can guard him well in the half court but penetration, kick outs, we’ve got to keep those things under control and I think that will help in limiting his looks.”


» Record to start a season (overall): 33-2
» Regular-season record (SEC): 18-0
» Winning streak (overall): 27 games
» Regular-season wins: 29
» SEC regular-season wins (single season): 18
» SEC road wins (consecutive): 9
» Home wins (overall, consecutive): 32
» Home wins (SEC, consecutive): 18


Young and Wilbekin are steadily inching their way up many of Florida’s all-time lists.

Wins at an SEC school
1. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 875
2. Billy Donovan (Florida) – 448
2. Dale Brown (LSU) – 448

Most Wins by a Senior Class
1. Casey Prather / Scottie Wilbekin / Will Yeguete / Patric Young (2014) – 117
1. Walter Hodge (2009) – 117

Games Played
1. Walter Hodge – 151
2. Patric Young – 146
3. Kenny Boynton – 145
4. Erving Walker – 144
5. Chandler Parsons / Alex Tyus – 142
7. Dan Werner / Chris Richard – 141
9. Scottie Wilbekin – 139

29. Vernon Delancy – 1,291
30. Patric Young – 1,265

Blocked Shots
5. Dwayne Davis – 160
6. Patric Young – 151

Field Goal Percentage (minimum 500 attempts)
5. Al Horford – .588
6. Ronnie Williams – .585
7. Udonis Haslem – .584
8. Patric Young – .582

Dunks (unofficial statistic)
3. David Lee – 155
4. Alex Tyus – 146
5. Patric Young – 139

Personal Fouls
4. Malcom Cesare – 361
5. Patric Young – 352

Minutes Played
7. Eddie Shannon – 3,676
8. Walter Hodge – 3,587
9. Patric Young – 3,531

6. Greg Williams – 423
7. Andrew Moten – 411
8. Scottie Wilbekin – 410

6. Andrew Moten – 165
7. Justin Hamilton – 164
8. Kenyan Weaks – 163
9. Scottie Wilbekin – 159
9. Erving Walker – 159

One Comment

  1. Gatoralum88 says:

    Thursday’s lackluster win is behind them. Today is a new day & new game & having seen other top teams (Arizona, Virginia, & of course Duke) struggle in their first game’s should help their psyches bounce back. UF & Pitt are so similar except the Gators are better offensively IMO IF Frazier & Wilbekin can get going. Young put it perfectly calling it a “junkyard dog” fight. Refs may have a lot to do with the outcome whether they “let them play” or not.

    What the Gators have done so far this season has been GREAT!!!…running the table to win the SEC & tourney…perfect at home again…best regular season ever…top overall NCAA seed…that’s ALL been GREAT & enjoyable. BUT, IF they lose today they’ll be remembered as “the top seed that couldn’t make it to the 2nd weekend of the dance”. It’s time for them to “get ‘er done!”…”Survive & advance”!!!…That’s what it’s all about. Go Gators!!! (Ha! The FSU math continues to amuse me…1+2 this morning!). That’s OK…I’m still waking up. 🙂

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